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Angels, Ducks took similar roads
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06/10/2003  3:03 AM ET 
Angels, Ducks took similar roads
Anaheims playoff teams had parallel runs
Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
Unlike their NHL counterparts, the Angels won Game 7 last postseason. (Kevork Djansezian/AP)
ANAHEIM -- The Angels' mystique couldn't reach all the way to the Meadowlands of New Jersey on Monday night and save the Mighty Ducks.

Anaheim's baseball and hockey teams had mirror-image playoff runs in less than a year, until it all came down to Game 7 of the finals. The Angels, who played the last game of the World Series at home, beat the Giants to win their first title. The Ducks, who didn't have home-ice advantage in the finals and had to play the last game on the road, lost to Devils in the Continental Airlines Arena.

Almost in sympathy, the Angels also lost -- to the Phillies Monday night at Edison Field. The final score of both games was, 3-0.

"It's a shame, the Ducks had a terrific season," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who grew up outside of Philadelphia as a Flyers fan. "Obviously, when you get that far and you get that close it's tough not to go all the way. They had a truly inspiring season for anyone who knows anything about or enjoys hockey. We certainly enjoyed it.

"They can hold their heads high. They took their best shot. They played their game all the way. It just didn't work out for them this year, but there's always next year."

At the Arrowhead Pond, just beyond the California State 57 freeway from Edison Field, an estimated 8,000 people gathered to watch the game on big screen video Monday night. The scoreboard hung low over the still ice surface giving fans that filled the lower bowl and club seat level, a bird's eye view of the hockey game. Printed signs reading "Lets Go Ducks" and "Beware of Low Flying Ducks" were sprinkled liberally throughout the 10-year-old arena.

Meanwhile, 25,902 people went to the baseball game.

During Saturday's Game 6, a 5-2 Ducks victory, comparisons to last October's Angels run were numerous. The Angels were down 3-2 after five World Series games. The Ducks were down 3-2 after five games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The video board kept showing tapes of the Angels comeback from that, 5-0, Game 6 deficit to defeat the Giants, calling it "Game 6 Karma." Even the Rally Monkey made an appearance dressed in a white, turquoise and purple home Ducks jersey. Monday night, fans in the Pond were trying to generate some "Game 7 Karma."

"This is just like the Angels and you know how that turned out," yelled Gina Seman, an Angels and Ducks season ticket holder who said she had given away her tickets to watch the Angels and Phillies in person so she could be in the arena to watch the Ducks end their season some 3,000 miles away.

"I get the same feeling from Games 6 and 7 as I did with the Angels last year," she said.

With one big difference: The Angels had home-field advantage in the World Series.

Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association use the 2-3-2 format in their championship rounds. The team with home-field (or court) advantage plays the first two games and the last two games at home. The NHL is still wedded to the 2-2-1-1-1 format. The team with the best record has home ice advantage and plays Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 at home. Thus, after the Ducks won Game 6, both teams had to wing back to New Jersey for the final game.

The Devils finished 12-1 at home this postseason. The Ducks were 9-1 at home in the playoffs, but lost all four games in New Jersey by a combined score of 15-3. Incidentally, there have been 12 Game 7s in Stanley Cup Finals history. The home team has won 10 of them.

The Angels, being the Wild Card team winner in the American League last season, didn't have home field advantage in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs. But they got it in the World Series because it was the AL's turn under the old system. For the next two years at least, the league winning the All-Star Game will have home field in the World Series.

The Angels took full advantage of home field and defeated the Giants, 4-1, in Game 7. The Ducks, who were the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference coming into the playoffs, weren't so fortunate in the end.

Still, Jarrod Washburn, who threw seven innings Monday night and took the loss, thought the runs by the Anaheim teams were eerily similar. Both teams were underdogs and given little chance to succeed in their respective postseasons. The Ducks' playoff trip went four rounds and began on April 9 when the Angels were in the second week of the season. It ended two months later with the Angels having played 61 games.

From a distance, the Angels watched and rooted as the Ducks defeated Detroit, Dallas and Minnesota and then went deep into the finals.

"I'm disappointed they lost. I was pulling for them," Washburn said. "Still they have nothing to hang their heads about. Nobody gave them a chance to do what they did. They had a great season, and like us, took it down to the final game. Obviously, a lot of people in this clubhouse wish they had pulled it off. But they have nothing to be ashamed of."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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